Interest in dreams is as old as mankind himself. Mankindâ€™s oldest book the Bible is full of them, with the first recorded dream occurring around 1900 B.C.E. The Greeks, Romans and Babylonians all put great hope in dreams, especially on the eve of battle. They believed that through dreams their Gods would direct them to victory. Today the interest in dreams and their interpretation is no less profound. In the early 20th Century Sigmund Freud referred to dreams as â€˜the royal road to the unconscious.â€™ He gave his own interpretations of dreams on the basis of our repressed desires, especially the sexual urge. Today it is generally held that Freudâ€™s interpretation of dreams was overly simplified. But why do we dream in the first place?
Dreams are often a response to our daily thoughts, activities and sensations. They are often, then, a reflection of what has consumed our minds in the preceding day or two. Dreams are apparently a necessary part of our being. Experiments have been done in which adult subjects were given drugs that progressively eliminated their rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It is during REM that dreams occur. The depriving of the ability to dream resulted in marked personality changes in such subjects. They became increasingly abrasive and anxious and found it difficult to concentrate. It was also shown that the younger a person is, the more important dreams are to their well being.
The general scientific consensus is that dreams are a necessary way for our subconscious mind to exercise itself. They warn about attaching undue significance to any interpretation of dreams. We are advised not to take our dreams too seriously, but rather to enjoy them for what they are â€“ an essential part of our sleep process.